Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fans, not firms, keeping Roughnecks afloat: owner

Here's a story from Allen Cameron from the Calgary  Herald.

The Calgary Roughnecks have been taken off life support, and they've been moved out of the intensive care unit.
But the bandages are still in place to stop the bleeding, and owner/general manager/ financial backer/glutton (some would say) for punishment Brad Banister isn't sure if they'll ever come off.
The good news is that the National Lacrosse League franchise is solvent this week.
Next week? That's a good question.
"It's still day to day, but we made payroll this week, and that's a big thing for us," said Banister on Friday. "We did it on our own (the team needed outside help to cover the cost of a recent road trip), so that's a plus, I'm pretty proud of that because obviously that was weighing on our minds. Business as usual, trying to sell tickets and trying to get some new advertising, but it doesn't look like anything's going to come up. We've had pretty crappy support so far."
That's despite Banister's dramatic statement in late February that the Roughnecks couldn't cover their payroll for that week, and that the team was doomed to collapse without more support from the Calgary business community.
"Corporate Calgary? Not one corporation has stepped up," shrugged Banister. "That's the way it is, I guess. What are you going to do? I'm not going to go begging again. We'll try to limp through as best we can and hopefully we'll survive. I guess maybe I care about it a little more than other people care about it. One of these days, though, I'm going to stop caring about it."
If he stops caring, others certainly will, although it's highly doubtful that their care would extend to keeping the Roughnecks in Calgary. Since announcing the team was for sale prior to the season, Banister said there have been nearly 30 expressions of interest, with most, if not all, involving moving the team into the U.S.
"Rightfully, this team should stay here," said Banister, noting he's had "lots of communication" with the Calgary Flames, but no firm offer to buy the team. "It's got legs in the community, and this is where it belongs."
The good news is that ticket sales have picked up this week in advance of a three-game homestand, which is a big reason he was able to cover the payroll.
"We've got some amazing fans," said Banister. "Our objective was not to get support from them; it was to get support from new people, and the doors have been swinging open at the office with people buying tickets. That's a real good sign."

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